Rainbow Summer Rolls: A Healthy Treat For the Season

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You know what they say — the more colors on your plate, the better! Excluding candy and processed foods, of course. With this vietnamese summer roll recipe, you get 

a fun and simple way to eat the rainbow! This refreshing and tasty dish is served with peanut sauce (or any nut- or seed-based sauce) and it’s perfect to eat at any time on a hot summer day.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls vs Spring Rolls

Summer rolls and spring rolls are used interchangeably, but they’re not technically the same thing. The difference is in the wrapper on the outside of the roll and how they’re served.

Spring rolls are wrapped in a super-thin dough made from flour and water, and then fried. Summer rolls are wrapped in a translucent rice paper that is less fragile than spring roll dough and not fried. Spring rolls are usually served hot and summer rolls served cold.

The filling inside spring and summer rolls tend to be similar, however you can adapt it to your needs, including making vegetarian summer rolls! Spring and summer rolls are traditionally also served with different dipping sauces. Spring rolls use sweet and sour sauce, vinegar, or a Worcestershire-based sauce. Summer rolls are typically served with peanut sauce or hoisin sauce.

What about egg rolls, you ask? Egg rolls are just like spring rolls, but with egg added to the wrapper dough to make it thicker. They’re also fried and served warm.

Vietnamese-Inspired Rainbow Summer Roll

This fresh, rainbow summer roll recipe is the perfect appetizer or party snack for a warm day. These rolls are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free — they’re packed with tons of veggies and herbs and complemented with a delectable peanut dipping sauce.

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Rainbow Summer Rolls with Dipping Sauce

  • Author: Chef Serena Poon


Total Prep Time: 45 min

Servings: 10 summer rolls, 8 smaller summer rolls


1012 rice paper sheets (include a couple of extra sheets in case one tears!)

1 C butter lettuce, torn with ribs removed (optional)

1 C red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 C carrots, thinly sliced, julienned or matchsticks

2 Persian cucumbers, julienned or matchsticks (hothouse cucumber okay)

¼ C red bell peppers, seeded and sliced, julienned or matchsticks

¼ C yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced, julienned or matchsticks

½ medium avocado, sliced (optional)

½ C fresh cilantro, rough chop

½ C fresh mint, rough chop

¼ C green onions (scallions), thinly sliced

8 oz extra-firm tofu, cut into strips (optional; use other protein if preferred)

2 jalapenos or Thai chili peppers, seeded & thinly sliced (optional)

4 oz cooked vermicelli or maifun rice noodles (optional; I used brown rice noodles)

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Pink Himalayan salt or sea salt to taste

Summer Rolls Peanut Sauce 

Pair your rainbow summer rolls with this delicious dipping sauce. You can use peanut butter or substitute any type of nut or seed butter.

½ C creamy nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, etc)

1 TB rice vinegar (seasoned rice vinegar is okay!)

1 TB toasted sesame oil

2 TB reduced-sodium tamari or gluten-free soy sauce

½ medium lime, juiced

2 T maple syrup (or substitute honey, raw coconut sugar, or sugar-free alternative like monk fruit)

½ tsp fresh ginger, grated (optional)

½ tsp fresh garlic, minced/grated (optional)

½ tsp chili garlic sauce or sriracha (optional and add to taste)

Hot water to thin out as needed 


  1. Cook rice noodles (or glass noodles or quinoa) according to the instructions on the package. Drain and rinse in cool/cold water. Toss with the 1 tsp of toasted sesame oil and a little bit of salt. Set aside.
  2. Prep all your vegetables and herbs and organize on a sheet pan or in separate bowls for easy access when assembling the rolls.
  3. Fill a shallow pan with about 1” of warm water. Submerge one sheet of rice paper into the water for about 10-15 seconds or until just pliable and transfer to a clean surface. Some people use a lint-free towel to absorb the extra water; a wooden cutting board works as well. DO NOT OVER SOAK THE RICE PAPER OR IT WILL BE TOO FRAGILE TO WORK WITH.
  4. If using butter lettuce, leave about 1” from the edge of the sheet and lay the lettuce over the lower 1/3 of the sheet. Start to add the veggies, herbs, noodles and protein of choice. If you don’t use the lettuce, just add the other ingredients, making sure to only fill the middle to lower half of the sheet. Don’t overfill!
  5. Once you’ve added your ingredients, fold the lower edge of the sheet up over the filling, gently rolling upward until the filling is enclosed. Then fold over the short sides (like a burrito) and roll up until the roll is completely sealed.
  6. Place the wrapped roll on a clean serving plate and place a damp towel on top to keep it from drying out.
  7. Repeat steps 4-7 until you’ve used up all your wraps!
  8. Serve with the dipping sauce, garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs. You can have a side of sriracha or chili sauce separate from the dipping sauce for those who want to adjust their own heat/spiciness!


Summer Rolls Peanut Sauce 

  1. Prepare dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients except for water into mixing bowl and whisk together. Slowly whisk in 1 TB of water at a time until desired consistency. Set aside in a bowl for service.


How to Adapt This Rainbow Summer Rolls Recipe

I love Vietnamese summer rolls because you can change them up and choose almost any ingredients you like! Some of the modifications you can make to this recipe include:

  • Instead of rice paper can use coconut wrappers, nori maki/sushi seaweed paper, lettuce wraps, or sturdy leafy greens like collard green leaves
  • Use fruit if you like! Mangoes, pineapples, and papaya are my suggestions.
  • Spiralize your veggies if you’re in a time crunch.
  • Use zucchini, napa cabbage, other veggies as you prefer.
  • If you are not plant-based, sub out tofu for shredded chicken or shrimp.
  • Use garbanzo beans as optional protein sub for tofu.
  • Use glass noodles or sweet potato noodles.
  • Use 8 oz of cooked quinoa instead of noodles.
  • Use basil, Thai basil, parsley, or lemon thyme as other herb options.


The fresh summer recipe is an easy way to get a heaping serving of nutrient-dense veggies, or fruit if you decide to add it! These Vietnamese-inspired rainbow summer rolls are easy to make, the only trick is learning to roll them up tightly. After you fill a few summer rolls, though, you’ll be a pro and you can trot out this recipe any time.


XO – Serena

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This content is strictly the opinion of Chef Serena Poon and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Serena nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

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